The Howling: Brandon Rios TKO 10 Miguel Acosta


Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios lived up to his nickname by rallying from a slow start to clawhammer Miguel Acosta in the 10th round of a vicious firefight at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rios, 134 1/2, charged Acosta from bell to bell with limited success early on, but he eventually caught up to his frail opponent and scored the kind of stoppage that simultaneously thrills and disturbs.

For four rounds, however, Acosta, also 134 1/2, punished Rios with straight rights, left hooks, an occasional uppercut, and lead lefts to the body. Rios had his moments here and there, but he looked like he was out of his depth early. A couple of left hooks to the body seemed to visibly affect him. It was no surprise when Acosta began to paste Rios with everything but the girl. “Bam Bam” is a poor defensive fighter and punches from all angles hit him like brickbats hurled by an angry street mob.

Acosta, Caracas, Venezuela, landed a crushing right late in the third that brought a goofy smile from Rios. But he would find nothing amusing in the fourth round, when Acosta sat down on his punches a little more and whacked Rios around the ring with cruel precision for nearly three minutes. Rios, perhaps for the first time in a very long time, found himself abandoning his pressure game and backing off. Just before the bell, a stiff combination appeared to shake him, and he trudged back to his corner with a discouraged look on his face. For his part, Acosta returned to his stool looking more than a little winded.

In the fifth round Rios, Oxnard, California, came out at the sound of the bell and redoubled his efforts, digging to the body whenever he could and mixing it up with Acosta along the ropes. But after five rounds Acosta was comfortably ahead on the scorecards. His movement kept Rios off-balance and his right hand appeared laser-guided at times. Still, Acosta, 32, would occasionally lay on the ropes to draw leads from Rios, a dangerous game to play with a puncher, and every now and then his moves seemed to lack purpose. Wasting energy in the ring against a give-and-take fighter who figures to keep the pressure up for as long as he can is an error in judgment.

In addition, Acosta appeared to be throwing change-ups in the early rounds, alternating quick but weak flurries with hard shots here and there. He might have been better off digging in and throwing heat more often. When he did, as in the fourth round, Rios, 24, was staggered by his shots. His biggest mistake, however, was holding his hands too low while exchanging.

Barely half a minute into the sixth round, Rios landed a three-punch combination punctuated by a jab that decked Acosta, who beat the count but looked ragged for the rest of the fight. Over the next round a half, Acosta deked and ducked when against the ropes, countered well in spots, and ran off eye catching combinations, but exchanging punches in close with Rios is drunken wisdom at best. And soon Acosta was tipsy again, when a rampaging Rios floored him with a left in the 8th.

With his legs unsteady for the reminder of the fight, Acosta tried his best to ward off his storming opponent, but Rios is nothing if not relentless. From time to time Acosta would land a combination, but there was little power behind his blows, and Rios walked right through them. Ripping shots from head to body and back again, Rios marched forward with the inexorability of Fate.

Finally, in the 10th round, Acosta opened up too much and for too long, and Rios connected with an overhand right that made Acosta curtsy in the ring. He was badly hurt by the blow. Acosta did not hit the canvas, however, but popped up raggedly again, defenseless against the ropes, where Rios ripped a vicious combination–a right, a left to the chest, and another whiplash right–that landed with sickening force.

Acosta collapsed in his own corner, his right leg pinned beneath him at a strange angle, where one of his seconds dove through the ropes to embrace his fighter, a white towel in his hands and a look of anguish on his face. It was a brutal stoppage and Acosta remained seated on the canvas–as still as a daguerreotype portrait–for a moment. He recovered enough to conduct a post-fight interview with Jim Gray, but Acosta, who slipped to 28-4-2, was later removed from the ring on a stretcher.

With the win, Rios, now 27-0-1, overcame his most dangerous opponent, showed resiliency and heart, thrilled a small crowd and a Showtime television audience, and gets to keep on doing his victory shriek for a little while longer…at least until its echo overwhelms him.


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Tags: Boxing Brandon Rios Lightweights Miguel Acosta

  • thetwillness

    Watched this with friends last night. I really though Acosta was on route to stopping Rios. Those combinations were beautiful. At the same time, I knew him backing himself into the ropes and corners would eventually undo him if Rios didn’t lose heart. Rios is a badass in the ring, sort of a terminator in how he just doesn’t stop in his pursuit. He might end up punchdrunk or worse if he keeps taking shots like that, but for the moment, he’s great for boxing.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi thetwillness,

      thanks for writing. I agree–it seemed like Acosta was just backing up into the ropes to be cute sometimes. Why let a big puncher get his only opportunities for free? Acosta countered well at times, but he lit Rios up in center ring more often than not. Like you, I thought Rios was on the way to a KO loss (especially after the fourth round), but you have to give credit to Rios for continuing to stampede despite the punishment he was taking.

      Ros is great for boxing, even if he isn’t the most talented. Boxing needs to promote guys that are colorful and exciting, not folks like Chad Dawson or Devon Alexander, whose only concern seems to be not getting too involved once the bell rings.

      • sammlung

        I totally agree with you that we should promote guys like Rios, but be warned; you will be accused of not really understanding the “sweet science”.

        I am talking about the lowest tier of boxing fan who think if you like a fighter like Brandon Rios you must be a neanderthal.

        • Carlos Acevedo

          Hi sammlung,

          In the end, boxing is risk coupled with skill. An action sport without action is a contradiction in terms. An exciting fighter, one who is conscious of boxing as a performance, does not necessarily have to be devoid of skill. Manny Pacquiao is a perfect example of that. So is Nonito Donaire. When Floyd Mayweather Jr. made a conscious decision to be more aggressive in the ring–against Ndou, Mitchell, and Corley, for example–he resembled what the ideal prizefighter should be.

          As raw as a fighter like Rios looks, he is still a trained professional, one whose–apparently limited–skills have been honed over years to their fullest. Ultimately, it’s a question of attitude and character. In modern boxing, at least in America, remuneration for many headliners does not mirror the lack of action and effort in the ring. And many of these “skilled” fighters merely look skilled because of the poor opposition they face.

          But I never worry about the lowest tier of boxing fan…they don’t read The Cruelest Sport.

      • thetwillness

        I was more or less screaming(in my head, didn’t want people looking at me crazy) at Acosta about that shit. Stay in the center of the ring, where Rios is aimless, and carve him up. Anyone with a brain knows a pressure fighter loves getting his man on the ropes. He prolly was trying to get cute for the camera like you said. Sad.

        I agree. The thing about Chad and Devon is that they have the tools to be entertaining fighters, but they’re so content to slap and halffight and its infuriating. Rios is far from a scientist in the ring but we need more guys like him in the game, guys who come out with the intent to close the show and bring the crowd the life. Not send them into comas.

        • Carlos Acevedo

          Hi thetwillness.

          I don’t think anyone will look at you crazy if you scream at the TV…everyone I know shouts at the TV during a fight…well, at least during a good fight…no one, for example, shouts at the TV when Chad Dawson fights.

          Acosta simply made too many mistakes for a guy who had a big edge in speed, skill, and mobility. Rios–and his pressure–might have had a bit to do with it, of course, but Acosta showed some serious brainfever in the ring, IMO.

          The problem with a guy like Dawson is he is fighting for a paycheck that overcompensates him–he drew fewer than 3,000 fans COMBINED for two fights with Antonio Tarver–based on his drawing power and entertainment value. He hasn’t been hungry in years, it looks like, since he beat Adamek. In that fight, he fought aggressively, was entertaining, and showed lots of skill at the same time.

          Another issue is that many of these so-called skilled fighters are given constant media blowjobs by “P-4-P” experts before they ever accomplish anything of any real value. So we always have to hear how great so-and-so is despite they fact that they are boring and have beaten mostly journeyman or guys who are in their 40s. This creates a climate of false expectation and also leads bozos like Kery Davis–who knows almost nothing about boxing– at HBO to take notice of fighters because of hype perpetuated by two-bit bloggers and writers who discovered boxing in 2003. If a skilled, defensive fighter can earn his paycheck, I’m all for it. Many of these guys don’t, however. Boxing is about drama–athletic drama–and the guys who create this drama are the ones who should be rewarded. Sometimes this coincides with being a highly skilled fighter–Sugar Ray Robinson, Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marco A. Barrera, Pacquiao, etc,.–and sometimes it doesn’t. But I don’t care if I ever see Chad Dawson again….

  • Michael Nelson

    Hey Carlos,

    I was sitting with my arms crossed and ‘I told you so’ written across my face (to no one in particular since I was watching the fight alone) after the fourth round. Rios was indeed getting undressed.

    But like you said, the guy is relentless and has real power. And he made a few minor adjustments defensively as the fight went along. Props due for overcoming a rough start. Thankfully, it looks like Acosta is going to be OK.

    A Soto fight would be fun.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Michael,

      Ha! I find myself sitting like that sometimes, too. Except once in a while I start mumbling to myself.

      To me, Acosta made some dreadful tactical mistakes in the ring, but, in the end, it was his inability to take Rios’ power that lead to his downfall. Honestly, I know I mentioned Acosta might not be Old Ironsides in the ring, but I had no idea he would be on Queer Street from a jab. In the post-fight interview, he said he was dizzy from that point on.

      One thing I didn’t mention is that Acosta moved almost exclusively to his left. That may have taken away Rios’ left hook, but it allowed Rios to close the gap and cut off the ring easier as rounds went by. And I was surprised Acosta didn’t try to spoil more when Rios got in close.

      Rios is exciting, but I think he needs to be matched very carefully now that he is a “champion.” He takes way too many punches.

      I hope Acosta will be fine, although getting dropped–hard–by a jab might be a sign to hang it up (if getting sparked out in the 10th, isn’t).

      A Soto fight would be loads of fun, but Soto has two pretty tough bouts already lined up (including the rematch against Antillon) and I think he’s on the downside right now.

  • El Destruyo

    Impressive fight, and Acosta looked great early, but even though I was rooting for Miguel, the whole thing felt like a b-level version of Cotto-Margarito from the 5th round onward, even with Acosta taking the 5th. (In my book, anyway; I’m sure the judges gave it to Rios as an example of one of my least favorite phrases in boxing, a “comparative round.”)

    I like some skill with my power, but Rios is certainly a force, and it’ll be fun to see who outskills him AND stays on his feet. I’d guess he probably is the new Margarito for better and worse, and the first man to chop him down will also mark the last truly relevant fight of his career.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi El Destruyo,

      I don’t know what it is that slowed Acosta down so quickly…I mean, it didn’t look like he got hit too often in the first four rounds. In the fifth he took his share of punches, but once he got knocked down in the sixth, it was game over. He put up a pretty good performance, however, but Rios took advantage of his flaws.

      Don’t get me started on my least favorite phrases in boxing, man….

      I actually think Rios throws tighter punches than Margarito does, but you’re right, he’s not the most skillful guy on the block. Boy does he take punches. And he moves his feet like he was wading through a bog pit. But he he hits hard, has guts, and is exciting. I’ll take that any day over most of the HBO roster.

  • Andrew Fruman

    That was a hell of a fight with a lot of guts shown by both guys. I’d love to see a rematch, although Arum seemed to indicate that wouldn’t be in the cards.

    Michael: A Soto fight would be a lot of fun. What I’d really love to see though, is Rios in against Maidana at 140. That would be a crazy fight, although I guess probably unlikely given Maidana’s with GBP.

    • El Destruyo

      Damn, that is a good idea, Andrew. Caveman on Caveman, with no real size issues since Rios will be at 140 soon enough anyway. There should be a purse for Rios-Maidana paid in roasted buffalo meat.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Andrew,

      That was definitely a solid, action-packed bout. I don’t think Acosta will be much of a match next time around (if there is one…I doubt it), seeing as he was on the canvas three times and put to sleep at the end.

      Rios showed some real resilience–both mentally and physically–but it’s hard for me to shake the notion that Acosta lost the script somewhere along the way. For example, when Rios would wade in, Acosta would throw touch shots just to create openings, but even the touch shots were finding their way to the target, so why not just throw those same punches with bad intentions? When Acosta came forward in the fourth, behind his shots, Rios looked like he was on the way out. And why stay on the ropes with a guy who has a blackjack in each hand?

      Rios-Maidana will probably never happen, but I’m with El Destruyo; they should just dress these guys in animal skins and let them go at it.

  • timfromia

    What was with Elie Seckbach on press row scoring? Was Antonio Margarito not available? I’m pretty sure at the time of the stoppage, Seckbach had Rios up by eleven points.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi timfromia,

      thanks for writing. I can only guess that who ever gathered up the press row crew for Showtime that night was confused or inebriated. Probably Seckbach was just hanging around, waiting to take his digital camera out in some dim corridor or in the parking lot and got rounded up by accident. Nothing else makes any sense. His scorecard was bizarre, but he really doesn’t know that much about boxing, so it’s no surprise to me.